Motivation and Study skills are more important than Intelligence in learning Mathematics

Mathematics need motivation and study skills (Credit: Sharon Dominick/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Researchers have found that in learning mathematics, motivation and study skills and habits play more important role than the intelligence.

This research has been published online in the journal Child Development.

“While intelligence as assessed by IQ tests is important in the early stages of developing mathematical competence, motivation and study skills play a more important role in students’ subsequent growth,” Kou Murayama, postdoctoral researcher of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (who was at the University of Munich when he led the study), said in a statement.

Researchers in this study worked on 3530 students in grades 5 to 10 with the median age of 11.7 years. They studied the effects of students’ motivation, study skills, and intelligence on the mathematical skills over five years.

Researchers found that intelligence contributes strongly in the initial stage of achievement in mathematics. However for long term achievements, students’ motivation and study skills and habits play more important role for their ability to learn mathematics. Competent students use different learning techniques, such as summarizing, explaining, and making connections to other materials, to get good marks.

“Our study suggests that students’ competencies to learn in math involve factors that can be nurtured by education,” Murayama added. “Educational programs focusing on students’ motivation and study skills could be an important way to advance their competency in math as well as in other subjects.”


Murayama, K., Pekrun, R., Lichtenfeld, S., & vom Hofe, R. (2012). Predicting Long-Term Growth in Students’ Mathematics Achievement: The Unique Contributions of Motivation and Cognitive Strategies Child Development DOI: said in a statement

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